Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chitra Nitin Nadkarni

If you are running in Bandra in the morning, chances are you will run into a woman who sports long hair and runs very hard. Chitra Nitin Nadkarni’s return to running – she was a sprinter in her youth days – has given her due rewards. She finished among the top three in her age category in Goa and Hyderabad half marathons. Encouraged by her husband and daughter, Chitra ran her first half marathon in her 50th year. She shares her journey with Mumbai Road Runners.

I have always enjoyed running, as I was a highly energetic child. Playing, running or even swimming channelized my energy. I did sprints in schools and college and even as a swimmer I did the short distances. I even reached the inter-district levels in athletics and swimming.
As I graduated, took up a job and got married, athletics and swimming naturally took a back seat. Though I kept myself fairly active through aerobics, gym workouts, dancing, badminton and yoga, the runner in me had never died. As I watched live telecasts of the Mumbai Marathon, the idea of running a half marathon was given a fresh lease of life.My daughter was old enough to take care of herself and in 2005 I did run the dream run in Mumbai marathon.
But it was a mere aberration as life’s duties and a few personal commitments kept me away from reconnecting with running. 

As I was closing in on my 50th birthday, I drew up a bucket list of 50 things to be done of which running was one of the top priorities. There are others like bungee jumping, skydiving, hot air ballooning etc….I hope I can achieve all this within the foreseeable future.

With encouragement from my husband and daughter, I started training for the 2013 Mumbai half marathon in August 2012. They knew that the boundless energy that I had needed to be expended somewhere. 

By that time, I had also quit my job and had plenty of time on hand. Having been a sprinter all my life, running for two hours at a stretch was a challenge initially. But running long distances has its advantages _ it liberates me and makes me happy. It is exhausting but satisfying too.

I ran my first long-distance run in December 2012 when I did the Mast run. I started too fast as the sprinter in me took over but the distance was obviously too long to be tackled with nervous energy. Though I was exhausted midway through the run and started cramping too, I had enough energy to finish the run and win the race among veterans. It was a strange feeling. I was revisiting the winning feeling after nearly three decades and I enjoyed it for sure. 

Next was the Goa Half marathon where I again bagged a podium. I cramped again but finished first in the women’s veteran category! Obviously I was doing something very wrong at the beginning of these races but getting it right at the end to bag podium finishes, I concluded.

Though I had trained hard enough and run two races, I had to give the Mumbai Marathon a miss in 2013 as an opportunity to travel to the United States cropped up and it was too good an offer to resist. A USA trip was also part of my bucket list, so I had to cancel one to fulfill another!

My next marathon was the Hyderabad half marathon in August 2013 and despite cramping from the 13 km mark, I again bagged a podium finish. It was agonizing to have missed a sub-two hour personal best timing by a minute or so.
By now, I have completely taken in the joys of running. I love running in the mornings, as it is peaceful, quiet and pleasant. Morning runs help me sort out my thoughts and plan my day.  

Earlier when I ran, I always listened to music but was advised that it was a dangerous habit as I was not plugging in to the traffic noise and would put my life in danger.

Now with the Mumbai Marathon 2014 less than two months away, I hope I can strike off one more item from my bucket list _ running a half marathon in under two hours. Of course I have other ambitions like running a full marathon, running a half marathon abroad. 

Running long distances is not easy as it takes a heavy toll on the body. You also need to possess mental strength to finish what you have started despite physical pain. Hence, it’s a combination of physical and mental endurance that helps me complete the intended distance, which satisfies me and gives me a sense of achievement.

I also enjoy competitive running, as the encouragement from fellow runners is inspiring. I experienced this recently at the Vasai Virar Mayor’s marathon. I was amazed at the number of people cheering for us. The excitement and energy that they generated was contagious and that made it the most enjoyable run for me.
I also marvel at all the runners I meet, young or old, slow or fast, people who have been running for so many years. I also feel I have the enthusiasm and energy to run even longer distances and hopefully plan to even run the Comrades in the not too distant future.




Ultra-Marathon Man

Just finished reading “Ultra Marathon Man – Confessions of an All-Night Runner” by Dean Karnazes – an absorbing and overwhelming story of his early athletic prowess, loss of his sister to accident, his subsequent forays away from running for 15 years and rediscovery of running to running ultra marathons to running crazy distances and impossible feats like running the south pole marathon, running 199 miles non stop etc. His heroic attempt at running the Western States 100 miler and succeeding first time and the Badwater Marathon and failing first time have been very poignantly told. A very nice inspirational story with dollops of quotable quotes for keeping in one’s mirror or desktop. The paperback edition has given details of his training plan, nutrition, strategy etc. at the end so that helps in people who are planning to run short distances like the marathon instead of crazy distances like ultra marathon and beyond. A must read for all running addicts.

Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty

Sunil and Sangeeta Shetty became the first Indian couple to run 100kms together and they achieved it with some style _ bagging a podium each.ssshetty 03Sunil, 51, finished second in the senior category while clocking 13 hours and 37 minutes, Sangeeta recorded 16 hours and 47 minutes to emerge top in her senior category. She, in fact, was the only woman to finish 100kms in all category.

Though Sangeeta took more hours on that glorious November day, she will hold bragging rights over her husband for she finished her first marathon 20 minutes faster than Sunil who clocked six hours.
Mumbai Road Runners caught up with the glorious couple as they ran us through their life story and the day when they achieved history.


We have to start by asking you how running came into your lives?

Sunil: I was a runner but I ran in my youth days only to keep fi which wasabout 5-7 kms. Somewhere along life’s journey I started gaining weight. I was in a 24×7 job and I ballooned to 88 kgs. I realised I had to restart running but in 15 months my weight came down to 64. Then somebody encouraged me to register for the SCMM and I did and ran the first half marathon in 2009. It was a struggle as I took three hours. I came home and promised to Sangeeta that I will never run a half marathon. I have not run another half marathon after that!

Sangeeta: I was a sportsperson. I played basketball, badminton and table tennis, but never took it to a serious level. I was good for college level. Then marriage came along and then our daughter. Like most woman after childbirth, I put on weight, like most women, I worried over my weight. I started the process of losing weight by walking while my daughter played in the park. I would walk for hours around the park, keeping an eye on her. Finally I started losing weight and started going with Sunil while he went on his long runs, I would, of course, walk. One day, he encouraged me to run.

How did you progress from then on?ssshetty 02

Sunil: I ran my first full marathon in 2010 and struggled through the journey over six hours. Thanks to the net I checked some running programmes and modified it to my needs and have since run only marathons.
Sangeeta: For two years I ran the half marathon, 2010 and 2011 and then finally graduated to the full in 2012. Since then I have run full marathon in Hyderabad.

For somebody who started running so late, your progress to ultra came fairly quickly

Sunil: It began with coincidence. We happened to meet a coach who had come home to deliver something. He later recognised us as the running couple and encouraged us to attempt longer distances. But running an ultra was serious business and we were not, at that point in time, doing much of core strengthening. We were just running. Again we dived into the internet and checked out how to go about training.
Sangeeta: I used to get shoulder pain and lower back pain, Thanks to the core strengthening. I was able to run the 2013 SCMM without any pain. We realised the value of strength training.

You have become the first couple to run 100kms.ssshetty 01

Sunil: When we ran the 75k at the Bangalore Ultra in 2012, we realised that there was another couple that had run longer distance together. This time, I am sure we are the first couple in India to run 100kms.

How did you prepare for the race

Sunil: After finishing the 75 kms, both of us felt strong enough to run more kms. We told ourselves that 100k is our next target. After running the Hyderabad marathon, we went into serious training mode.
Sangeeta: We ran one 50k and one 60k. For the really long runs, we start around 3.30 am and run around Shivaji Park. Sunil stays with me till daylight breaks then he sets his own pace. We head towards NCPA and thereby complete the 60k training run.

…And during the run:

Sunil: We had planned on an 8:2 strategy, run for eight minutes and walk for two minutes. It worked wonders for us because we were the only ones running in the final part of the journey. I had a target of 13 hours, 30 minutes. I missed it by only seven minutes!
Sangeeta: I had a fall in the 7th km mark and I started bleeding from my right knee. I had a cut. But, surprisingly, I felt a strong resolved rising through me and I did not think about the remaining 93 kms. My target time was 15 hours so I extended that by quiet a few extra minutes, finishing in 16.47. For the last leg of the 100k journey, I had Sunil pacing me which means that he ran 112 kms.

Why are you guys able to graduate to ultra distance so quickly and also do it so successfully.

Sunil: We are not bothered about the time we clock in races. Also, we like to run alone or in the company of each other. If you like the lonliness of a runner, I believe you are bound to become good at running ulra distances. If you are obsessed about time, you might as well do marathons.

ssshetty 05

What is the mental strength that you need to conquer the distance over the normal marathon?

Sunil: Running ultra distance teaches you to be patient. You have to build a mental resolve to tackle such distances. If you break down the distance into smaller goals then it helps to tackle the big one fairly easily. For the 100k we took each 12.5k as a leg and worked on completing each one.

Do you follow any regimen?

Sangeeta: We are foodies. But a week before a race, we discipline ourselves. We eat home food, avoid fried stuff, add more brown rice to our meals. But once the race is over, we do not stress on what we eat. We basically what we like.

What is the next step?

Sunil: I want to attempt the 24 hours run. I feel I am ready to accept the challenge. But as far as Sangeeta is concerned, I think she should wait.

Venues for a 10k Tempo run

We would like to ask the runners where they would like to hold the 10K tempo runs that we have been organising every 3rd sunday of every month.

10Ks can be moved around so we would like to ask you to choose your venues for the next 6 months from the below list.

In case you want add venues, please do so, but you have to provide logistics support, route map etc. for that venue.

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